By John Stuart Mill
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Additional info for An Examination of Sir William Hamilton's Philosophy (Collected Works of John Stuart Mill - vol 09)
V. GOD AND PROFESSOR MANSEL WITHHAMILTONTHUSROUTED,Mill turns to meet Mansel's application of the philosophy of the conditioned to religious thought. Neither Mill's attack nor Mansel's response stands out as a model of dispassionate and impersonal inquiry. Mill all but accuses the clergy of being under a professional obligation to talk nonsense (104), and Mansel replies in kind. 46Mill opens his assault by paying Mansel a backhanded compliment: "Clearness and explicitness of statement being in the number of Mr.
Believing God to be infinite and absolute must be believing something, and it must be possible to say what" (98). Mansel's argument to the effect that "the Absolute" and "the Infinite" are involved in selfcontradiction is altogether too devastating for his own good, for Mansel certainly does not want to say that the divine nature is really and inherently contradictory. 47 His reply to Mill, abusive though it is, shows how little he wished to get himself into such depths, for when Mill taunts him with not being able to say what the object of his belief is, he falls back on propositions which Mill readily admits to be intelligible, such as the proposition that God made the world, though we cannot tell how He did it.
To Mill the issue was simple enough. When the clergy talked of God's power they generally meant what we would mean by talking of human power, for instance the divine ability to throw us into the inferno; only on God's moral attributes did they equivocate and suggest that God's goodness was not as mortal goodness. , vii. INTRODUCTION Xxxvii enforce obedience must address itself to real feelings; but are content that his goodness should be conceived only as something inconceivable, because they are so often required to teach doctrines respecting him which conflict irreconcilably with all goodness that we can conceive?